Voter apathy high despite big field

Ten people are contesting the Invercargill mayoralty — but apathy also seems well in the running.

Voting opened yesterday for the local body elections and there is plenty of interest in who will be mayor of the country’s southernmost city.

Incumbent Sir Tim Shadbolt, who is standing for another term as Invercargill mayor — in what would be his 10th — faces some serious competition and his time could well be coming to an end.

However with so many chasing the mayoralty, there is speculation the vote could split and Sir Tim could win with his loyal supporters standing by him.

Otago Daily Times reporters in Invercargill went out during the week to capture the mood of the city and asked residents who they would vote for in what is shaping up as one of the closest elections in Invercargill for a long time.

But despite a more than competitive race, interest seems to have been lost on people in the South.

More than a third of people — 36% — asked this week who that would vote for, said they either did not know who they wanted as mayor or would not be voting.

Of those who put forward a candidate, 26% of people said they would vote for Cr Nobby Clark.

A total of 17% of people asked said they would vote for Marcus Lush and 12% of people said they would back former Invercargill deputy mayor Toni Biddle.

Darren Ludlow, who stood for mayor three years ago, attracted 6% of the vote.

Sir Tim picked up just 3% support.

Cr Clark has enjoyed a high profile over the past three years and was appointed deputy mayor after Mrs Biddle resigned in late 2020. Earlier this year he stood aside from the role but was persuaded to return to the job the next day.

Cr Lush was elected to the council in February last year in a by-election.

Sir Tim won the 2019 election by more than 3000 votes, beating Cr Ludlow. There was a 53% voter turnout in 2019.